A 35-metre Moses Mbye field goal has given the Bulldogs a remarkable 25-24 golden point victory over Wests Tigers at ANZ Stadium on Friday night.
In front of a strong crowd of 20,121, the home side appeared headed for a comfortable victory when they led 24-6 with just 20 minutes remaining. But three consecutive tries to Michael Lichaa, Curtis Rona and Josh Morris set up the first extra time game of the season.
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First Lichaa ducked under a couple of tackles before diving over next to the posts in the 59th minute, then Rona bagged his second of the evening when he became the recipient of a surprise cut out ball from a sweeping Sam Kasiano in the 67th.
Brooks shaved the upright on a point blank field goal attempt that would've iced the game, only to watch Hodkinson dramatically level the scores when he converted a 75th minute Josh Morris try – his first in almost a year – set up by a Rona offload.
Hodkinson and Brooks traded missed field goals in the opening stages of golden point, and it appeared the Bulldogs halfback would pot the game-winner, before he deferred to Mbye to finish off a remarkable comeback win with a low-trajectory shot.
"It was a good idea to swap, have the first one, [then] switch it across," coach Des Hasler said post-game.
"It doesn't matter how they get over, as long as they get over. So it was a good result for us, particularly those kinds of games, when it comes down to extra time."
The Wests Tigers dynamic duo of Brooks and fullback James Tedesco looked to have taken the game away from the competition heavyweights when they combined for two tries early in the second half.
Scores were tied 6-all when the Tigers went, as Channel Nine commentator Peter Sterling called it, "bang, bang" and took control of the contest.
Brooks scored the go-ahead try when he played at a Greg Eastwood grubber close to the line, retrieved the ricochet, and then sprinted 80 metres in the 46th minute.
Then the Tigers went back-to-back on the return set, the halfback again involved when he latched onto a Curtis Sironen offload before toeing ahead for Tedesco three minutes later.
And the young pair were at it again in the 56th, Brooks producing a wicked left foot step that stood the Bulldogs defence up for long enough to allow Tedesco to chase another grubber behind the line and extend their lead to 18 points.
The underdogs first played keep-aways from the outset, pinning the Bulldogs on their own line with the first three sets of the match and then crossing for first points on the fourth when second-rower Kyle Lovett burst through on a dubious Brooks short ball.
But when the visitors finally got possession the contest evened out, and they levelled the scores on a Rona try that came from a one-handed back flick from Frank Pritchard in the 16th that had the game deadlocked at halftime.
Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor said while they were disappointed with the loss, he was proud of their effort.
"I said to the guys afterwards, it's important we don't bash ourselves up too much after that because you guys will write that we had that game and should've won it," he said.
"And I think that's right, but that's not accurate in relation to players we had out tonight, the young players we had in our team, [and] the fact that we backed up from that game last week. It's a really positive night for the club in my opinion."
Tigers centre Chris Lawrence was put on report in the 45th minute for dangerous mid-air contact on a leaping Sam Perrett.
Canterbury-Bankstown 25 (Curtis Rona 2, Michael Lichaa, Josh Morris tries; Trent Hodkinson 4 goals, Moses Mbye field goal) def Wests Tigers 24 (James Tedesco 2, Kyle Lovett, Luke Brooks tries; Mitch Moses 4 goals). Crowd: 20,121. Halftime: 6-all.